Rossini’s friends: Giuseppe Poniatowski, in Quadrivium, Nuova Serie, X, 1999

la famiglia poniatowski
Stanislaw Poniatovski, Kasmir’s son, elder brother of Stanislaw II Augustus, King of Poland and Great Chamberlain of Poland, was born  in Warsaw on 23 November 1754.Ever since was he young, he used to travel a lot throughout Italy, especially stopping in Rome, where a noble and  refined  Polish colony had settled down. In 1784 Stanislaw’s brother, Michael, became the Primate of the reign of Poland, so that the relations between the Poniatowski family and Rome became even closer. Stanislaw’s more and more numerous stops led him to settle definitively down in the capital where in 1800 he purchased a beautiful villa in via Flaminia with a spectacular sight upon Villa Borghese. At the time Rome was all enclosed in the wide loop of river Tevere, between Porta Flaminia and the Isola Tiberina, a not very large built-up area, decked with several churches and with only 150,000 inhabitants. Stanislaw, a big landowner in Poland, became shortly a big  estate owner in Italy, too: he used to spend  winters in the capital, springs and autunms on the lake of Albano and summers in his estates  in San Benedetto, only a few kilometres from Mantua: his estates around Rome and in northern Italy soon after won the reputation of being among the most modern and organized ones in the peninsula. It was in Rome around 1804 that he met young Cassandra Luci Beloch, whom was told to have taken refuge in her palace in Via della Croce to escape from her husband, old and obscure Vincenzo Beloch’s,  nth scene: it had surely to be love at first sight if soon after Stanislaw Poniatowski, having awarded a large appanage to Beloch for his giving up to any matrimonial right, got married with Cassandra Luci, whom he named Caterina (a name the Poniatowski family cared for) who gave him 5 children: Isabella (1806), Carlo (1808), Costanza (1811), Giuseppe (1814) and Michele (1816).
It may be remembered that from 1811 poet Gioacchino Belli became the prince’s private secretary. In 1824 Stanislaw liquidated all of his possessions in Lazio and moved with his family to Florence. Grown up in this city’s artistic atmosphere, his two sons Carlo and Giuseppe showed a particular  taste for music and singing from their childhood, and had the Roman Candido Zanotti as their maestro. In particular Giuseppe was educated at the Collegio of the Padri Scolopi in Florence ; after devoting himself to the study of exact sciences, he gave them up for the study of composition and was a pupil of musician Ferdinando Ceccherini, who gave him counterpoint lessons. His fame as a composer and an orchestra conductor  rapidly spread; in this latter field, among the others, he contributed to the diffusion of Beethoven’s music by conducting his symphonies in Florence for three consecutive years. In 1834 Giuseppe married countess Matilde Perotti, who gave him an only child, Stanislaw Augustus (1835-1908), one of Napoleon III’s squire-to-come, who gave rise to today’s offsprings. After father Stanislaw’s death, in 1833, his sons did not feel any longer linked to paternal noble conventions and organized a sort of family musical association based on the considerable heritage received as a capital and on their family name. Carlo sang as an opera bass, his wife Elisa, countess of Montecatini as a soprano, while Giuseppe was a tenor; their two sisters Isabella and Costanza were also singers. The major theatre impresarios tried to engage the Poniatowskis since, apart from their brilliant vocal qualities, they used to sing free and to pay for the publicity and the staging of the operas out of their pocket.

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